Whether the new Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament might give a young Arizona Wildcats’ team a better chance to advance, head coach Adia Barnes was not enthused about the idea of playing in that tourney a few weeks ago. Once you’ve tasted the NCAA Tournament, going back is not a thrilling prospect in her esteem. As of now, it looks like she won’t have to worry about that.

Regardless of how last Sunday’s Pac-12 Tournament title game turned out, it was going to look good for the Wildcats. If Stanford won, they could say that they beat the regular season and tournament champs. If USC won, they could say that they gave the tourney champs two of its toughest three games over the last week of play.

Just playing in the Pac-12 and ending up above .500 overall and almost .500 in league play was a huge accomplishment. Even if the Wildcats hadn’t faced depth issues, the league was stacked.

All metrics indicate that the Pac-12 was the top league in the nation this year. Whether it’s on the basis of NET, RPI, ELO, or even the human polls, there’s not just consensus but unanimity.

Looking at the top strengths of schedule is a good place to start. Arizona had the second-highest SOS in the nation after the games of Mar. 11. Only UCLA was above the Wildcats. The top six strengths of schedule and eight of the top 10 were all played by Pac-12 teams. All 12 of the league’s teams were in the top 18.

Those positions were primarily due to the strength of other teams in the conference, but they were also due to nonconference schedules. Arizona’s 19 Quad 1 games were the most in the country. That means that 59 percent of the Wildcats’ games fell into the top echelon as far as difficulty, yet they still managed to win over half of their games and push several other top teams in their losses. The average NET of the teams that beat them was 21.

The Wildcats have shifted a few spots up and down in the NET since the end of Pac-12 play. They now are No. 35, which is second among the four league teams that were considered on the bubble before the tournament began.

Washington State is at No. 29, but the Cougars’ loss of Charlisse Leger-Walker and resulting struggles will likely hurt them. It’s a terrible way to miss out on a bid, but the committee’s selection criteria include personnel availability. Two years ago, Arizona had to submit information proving that Cate Reese would play in the tournament to solidify its case for hosting the opening rounds.

The other two teams from the league that were in the running were Washington and California. Arizona swept the Golden Bears and went 2-1 against the Huskies this year. With head-to-head being a selection criterion, it would seem to count for something. Both teams are also behind the Wildcats in NET with Cal lagging far behind at No. 59.

Why does it matter how Arizona stacks up against its conference sisters? It would be quite a stir if the top league got just six berths when projections have lower-ranked leagues with as many as nine.

The prognosticators don’t think the Pac-12 will get just six. ESPN, the Athletic, and Her Hoop Stats all project the team in the field as of Mar. 12.

ESPN and Her Hoop Stats both create full brackets with potential pairings. Both have the Wildcats playing in the First Four as a No. 11 seed.

Charlie Creme of ESPN has the Wildcats playing Mississippi State for the right to go up against West Virginia in South Bend, Ind. It would be an interesting matchup considering that the two teams swapped players and assistant coaches over the last two years. The bad blood between Barnes and her former assistant now in Morgantown might not be something most fans know about, but the parties involved certainly do.

Arizona would try to send WVU home for the second year in a row in that situation. The reward would likely be facing Notre Dame on its home court.

Megan Gauer of Her Hoop Stats thinks Arizona will play Vanderbilt in Storrs, Connecticut. If the Wildcats won the First Four matchup, they would move on to play Louisville. The winner of that game likely plays Connecticut. Arizona beat the Huskies the last time they played, but it was under very different circumstances.

What Arizona has to be concerned about is an upset in one-bid leagues. One of those happened on Tuesday afternoon with top-seeded Gonzaga losing to Portland in the WCC tournament championship game.

Gonzaga is a lock, so Portland will be taking a bid from someone. The current projections suggest that someone will be either Mississippi State or Penn State, but it puts Arizona in a precarious position, as well.

The Wildcats will learn their fate on Selection Sunday. The selection show airs on ESPN at 6 p.m. MST on Mar. 17.

The women’s First Four will be held on Mar. 20-21. The winners advance to the first round starting Mar. 22-23.

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